Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kuna, quit the crazy talk about the Census form and fill out your form

I have a bad feeling about this year’s Census. We have become such a fear-mongering society, and the Internet has only served to spread disinformation, gossip and fear about, among other things, the Census. It seems nothing in our society is safe from unfounded accusations and fervent conspiracy theories.
A group of local citizens, including myself along with Joe Luppens, Kuna City Council member Jeff Lang, Jon Lang, JoLyn Glascock, Kuna Lions Club President Skip Hoseley, local dentist JD Grant, Karlynn Laraway from the school district, Calvary Chapel of Kuna Pastor Chris Bent, Bob Kegler from the Kuna Senior Citizens Center, worked for over a year on the Kuna Census Committee, hoping to ensure that everyone in Kuna gets counted. We’ve been meeting on Saturday mornings and volunteering countless hours to do this work.
I find it personally insulting to have our efforts subsumed by ignorant crazy talk. I even know of one local business that refused to allow us to put up posters or hand out flyers. That’s not very good public relations, if you ask me.
Undercounting means less representation in government, less funding for roads, an overpass, etc., and more money spent on paying people to go knock on doors of people who didn’t fill out their Census form and mail it in.
Also, the Census records history. It will tell future generations — your grandchildren and great-grandchildren — where you lived and who was living with you.
The Census asks you 10 simple questions.
As of Tuesday, the nation was at 46 percent return rate for Census forms, Idaho was at 53 percent, Ada County at 55 percent and the city of Kuna 57 percent.
We’re doing better than average, but we still have a long ways to go.
The bottom line for me, despite the Census crazy talk out there this year, the Census information is benign, it’s highly useful for planning and it’s completely safe.
Here’s one more reason: If you fill it out and mail it in, no government agent will come knocking on your door asking you these questions. Just do it.

A few Kuna police blotter items that came too late for this week's issue

Tuesday, March 23
5:59 P.M.: Battery Just Occurred, 300 Block W Main St - a 16-year-old male got into a fight at the skate park. They did not want or need paramedics. Deputies responded and completed report

Wednesday, March 24
1:16 A.M.: Overdose Code 2, 1300 Block W Topanga Ct - deputies responded after paramedics called, adult female who overdosed on unknown chemical – transported to hospital and placed on mental hold

Thursday, March 25
5:32 P.M.: Animal Abuse, 1100 Block W Kesler Dr – calling party reported neighbor was beating his dog. Deputies responded and spoke with owner of the animal who said he smacked his dog for digging holes in the yard. Dog appeared healthy and well cared for. No further action taken.

Friday, March 26
10:48 A.M.: Fraud Report, 700 Block W Avalon St – deputies responded to take report about prior incident. No further action taken.

Saturday, March 27
10:17 A.M.: Burglary Report, 1000 Block E Kuna Rd – caller reports business was broken into the previous night and a small amount of cash taken. Deputies responded to investigate.
3:21 P.M.: Narcotics Violation, 1300 Block W Castro Dr – caller reports seeing two adult males and an adult female meet and conduct what the caller referred to as a “drug deal”. Deputies responded to get further information

Sunday, March 28
1:05 A.M.: Assist Paramedics Code 2, 300 Block N Avenue E – adult male fell inside a business and was bleeding from the head. Deputies responded to assist paramedics for security reasons
2:39 P.M.: Road Rage Situation, 1400 Block N El Camino Av – caller reports an adult male followed her daughter and son-in-law to her home over a road rage situation. The other driver then left. Deputies responded to gather further information.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kuna Easter Egg Hunt is happening this Saturday

Every year around this time, I get inundated with phone calls from people wanting to know when the Kuna Easter Egg Hunt is. Clearly, these people aren't reading the Kuna Melba News, yet they call the Kuna Melba News to find out when the event is. Perhaps I should make callers listen to an ad for El Gallo Giro or Freedom Fitness.
This year, I'm crying uncle. I'm posting the information on our web site and on this blog in the hopes that readers will realize how much information there is in the Kuna Melba News every week. I am also using it as a plea to those folks who don't currently subscribe: You know the information is in the paper, just subscribe. I guarantee that you're going to find something of interest to you more than just once a year when you want to find out when the Easter Egg Hunt is. How about the open house for BMX season in Kuna? When does baseball season start? Is your son or daughter student of the week?
And it's just 28 bucks a YEAR. The whole year. 28 dollars. People spend more than that on one month of cable.
All right, so now that I've made you listen to my ad, here's the info:
The annual Kuna Easter Egg Hunt is happening this Saturday.
Hundreds if not thousands of local residents are expected to gather at 10 a.m., this Saturday, April 3, at the Kuna High School football field to gather thousands of eggs containing hundreds of treats and prizes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

City of Kuna Idaho sued over wastewater treatment plant local improvement district

Landowners in the local improvement district that’s funding the new wastewater treatment plant have filed legal appeals against the city of Kuna, according to an exclusive story in this week's Kuna Melba News.
The two appeals challenge the validity of the LID and ask the court to find the LID void and unenforceable.
“The city of Kuna committed fraudulent, coercive and deceptive acts in the formation of the LID,” according to one of the appeals filed by Frank and Cindy Fazzio and their company Idaho Livestock Company LLC. “…and attempting to obtain Appellants’ consent to be included in the LID by telling Appellants that their real property would not be annexed unless they agreed to have their real property included in the LID and further, that if Appellants did not join the LID they would never be able to obtain sewer permits in the future, thereby making Appellants’ real property undevelopable. Further, the city of Kuna represented that without the LID, there were no sewer permits available.”
The two separate appeals were filed late Friday in the Fourth Judicial District Court of Idaho. One filing represents 41 separate property owners totaling 241 separate parcels and about 1,400 acres, or a little more than half of the 2,700 acres in the LID. The other appeal, representing the Fazzios and Idaho Livestock Company, represents about 35 acres.

You can read the rest of this story on Page 5 of this week's Kuna Melba News.

Friday, March 26, 2010

State puts hold on several water-rights applications after story appears in the Kuna Melba News

The Idaho Department of Water Resources has put on hold a number of water-rights applications in an area of the southeast Kuna region until a study can be completed of the area, according to an exclusive story in this week's Kuna Melba News.
Specifically, the department is concerned about a 13-square-mile area in which pending water-rights applications represent 47.74 cubic feet per second of water diversion, or roughly twice the current capacity of the city of Kuna.
“We want to get a little better handle on the groundwater situation down there,” said John Westra, Western Regional Manager of IDWR. “This is more of a regional thing.”
Westra said the move by his department was “routine.”
The department has directed its hydrology section manager to report on a number of concerns, including:
• the sufficiency of cold groundwater supply
• potential injury to existing users and cumulative impact on current water-rights users
• appropriation of groundwater for proposed uses in the public interest.
The Kuna Melba News reported earlier this month on what the city of Kuna was characterizing as an “Arizona water grab” in the region. Of particular concern were a pair of water-rights applications on an Ada County-approved planned community called Vista, which was being proposed by a group of Arizona companies.

A bit of good news this week: The circus is coming back to Kuna

The circus is coming back to town.
The Kuna Lions Club is bringing back the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus for two shows, 2 and 4:30 p.m., on Saturday, July 17, in the parking lot behind the Kuna city park.
The Culpepper and Merriweather Circus is a good, old-fashioned, one-ring, big-top circus. The Kuna Lions Club brought them to Kuna two years ago, in July 2008, with much success. Nearly 1,000 locals attended the circus, which turned out to be a highly successful fundraiser for the Kuna Lions Club.
The circus includes performing animals, a high-wire act, a dog and pony revue, a trapeze performer, a unicycle act, a hula hoop act, an Old West horse comedy routine, and, of course, a clown. Each show in 2008 lasted nearly two hours and received rave reviews from those in attendance.
On the morning of the circus, residents can come down to the city park to watch the raising of the Big Top, then stay for a free tour.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kuna city taxpayers on the hook for ballfields project

The city of Kuna already has spent several thousand dollars on making sure the city park ballfields will be ready in time for opening day of the youth baseball season April 10.
Several thousand more dollars likely will be necessary in the coming weeks to get the job done.
Kuna city engineer Gordon Law said that the parks budget has about $8,000 in unspent money from a capital expense that he can use toward finishing the ballpark, including buying backstop netting and sod.
But City Council member Rich Cardoza is even more concerned about future expenses related to advertising and promotional expenses that have been promised to business owners.
Cardoza’s concern seems to be a harbinger of potential problems. The question remains as to whether the Kuna Baseball Park Redevelopment Committee accepted money in exchange for promises of advertising signs and pavers and naming rights and whatever else. At least one business owner has informed the city that he paid $5,000 in exchange for advertising. Is the city now on the hook for these promises?
I hope a financial accounting is done soon so we can sort this out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Newspapers are still the best place for legal notices

So much of what newspapers do goes underappreciated by the general public. Perhaps at the top of that long list is publishing public notices.
Government agencies currently are required to publish legal notices for certain actions, such as annexations, passing ordinances, holding public hearings, holding elections, etc. For years, they’ve been required to publish legal notices in newspapers. States generally set the prices for these legal notices on a line-by-line basis, and the prices are the same in all newspapers.
Of course, newspapers receive revenue for these legal notices. Because of this, the public sometimes feels that newspapers defend the publication of legal notices as simply self-serving financially.
However, newspapers, more than any institution in this country, are the greatest defender of the public’s right to know, and I find many of the arguments defending newspaper legal notices as altruistic and pure.
All across the country, there are dozens of efforts to take legal notices out of newspapers and put them online instead. Yes, the free giveaway of news product online has damaged newspapers, cut their circulations and driven more people to get their news and information online. So, one might argue, let’s get with the times and post legal notices online, where it’s free and we can save taxpayer dollars.
First, every single government agency, from cemetery district to the EPA can post every document and legal notice online RIGHT NOW! Why don’t they? Because THEY DON’T HAVE TO! Legal notices force government agencies to tell the public what they’re up to.
You can read more reasons newspapers are still the best way to disseminate legal notices in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Company wants to put a shed up in city park parking lot as part of vehicle emissions testing

A company is proposing to put a shed in a parking lot at Deer Flat and Linder roads as part of the new DEQ-mandated vehicle emissions testing.
The proposal runs contrary to what the contractor company stated two weeks ago about the nature of these operations.
Bill Dell of SysTech told the Kuna Melba News in February that the company was looking for existing businesses that can do the tests themselves, have a covered area for the tests and have adequate facilities for customers, including a waiting area and clean bathroom. The Kuna Lube N Go would be a good example of a business that might conduct the tests, Dell confirmed.
However, Kuna City Council members have an item on their agenda for Tuesday night from a company called L-N-T, which claims to be doing work with SysTech to provide vehicle emissions in Kuna.
They are proposing to place a 12-foot-by-8-foot-by-11.5-foot shed in the parking lot of the city park at the southwest corner of Deer Flat and Linder roads. The company is also proposing to place a 4-by-4-foot sign on a couple of wooden posts at the site.

Sego Prairie Pond in Kuna is stocked with 1,000 rainbow trout

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game was out at Sego Prairie pond this morning stocking it with 1,000 rainbow trout in preparation for tomorrow's big opening day of fishing in Kuna at the pond.
Mike Borzick, with the city of Kuna, was kind enough to snap some photos this morning of the fish stocking and send them to me.
Dedication ceremonies for Sego Prairie Pond, the Treasure Valley’s newest community fishing pond, will take place on Saturday, March 13. The city of Kuna will host a grand opening celebration and fishing activities at the new pond from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sego Prairie is off Ten Mile Road, between Deer Flat Road and Boise Street. The pond is at the end of Sego Prairie Street.
Anglers of all ages are invited to try their luck, and no fishing license will be required during the special event. Fish and Game staff will have the “Take Me Fishing” trailer on site with loaner rods available for use.
The community pond project was initiated last year by the City of Kuna.
“For years now, local kids have had no place to bobber fish in the Kuna community,” Fish and Game fishery manager Jeff Dillon said in a press release. “We’re excited to see the City of Kuna taking up the cause and developing Sego Prairie Pond as a fun, safe place for young anglers.”
Fish and Game will stock Sego Prairie Pond with trout in advance of the grand opening, and trout stocking will continue every few weeks this spring and fall.
For more information regarding the grand opening of Sego Prairie Pond, contact the Department of Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is the Treasure Valley facing an 'Arizona water grab'?

The city of Kuna is preparing to defend itself from what it characterizes as “an Arizona water grab” in its back yard.
A group of Arizona companies and a Boise water engineering firm are applying for water rights on over 1,000 acres of land previously approved as the Vista Planned Community, according to an exclusive story in this week's Kuna Melba News.
“I would characterize this as an Arizona water grab,” Kuna city engineer Gordon Law said last week.
Under two separate applications, Vista’s original development companies and SPF Water Engineering of Boise are applying for a total of 20.44 cubic feet per second of water on approximately 1,022 acres of land known as the Vista Planned Community.
The pending water-rights applications are located just west of Cole Road and south of Kuna Mora Road within the boundaries of the Vista Planned Community, a massive mixed-use development approved by Ada County Commissioners in 2008.
By comparison, the city of Kuna currently has eight wells in operation, representing 20 to 25 CFS, so the applications would be the equivalent of the city of Kuna’s entire water production. Further, Law said that 20 to 25 CFS is enough capacity to handle roughly 11,000 dwelling units. The city of Kuna currently has around 5,000 dwelling units.
The city of Kuna has an active water right permit for the diversion of 18 CFS, of which the city has diverted and placed into service about 2.7 CFS.
The city has about eight years left in its permit to divert and place in beneficial use the remaining 15.3 CFS or it will be lost, Law said.

Much more of this story is in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kuna City Council members set LID connection fee

Kuna City Council members have given local improvement district landowners a break on sewer connection fees — and provided an incentive to pay their assessments in full by March 22.
City Council members, on a 3-1 vote, approved a resolution Monday night that designates the $3,233.75 assessment as a credit toward the payment of a sewer connection fee. In addition to the assessment, if landowners pay in full within the 30-day open pay period, they can receive a sewer connection for an additional $500, which represents a discount on the current sewer connection fee.
Currently, a sewer connection in the city of Kuna costs $4,326. A big question that has been lingering for months is whether the LID landowners would have to pay that full amount in addition to the $3,233.75 that they’re paying as part of their assessment that’s paying back about $26 million in construction costs on the new sewer treatment plant.
The question was key, as it was a vital unknown for many landowners who were trying to make a business decision about whether to walk away from their land or not.
The resolution appears to be a good-faith effort on behalf of the City Council to address some of the complaints and concerns of the LID owners, many of whom likely face foreclosure on their property because of this assessment.
Although the resolution resolves some important financial issues, it likely won’t be enough to avoid a lawsuit, which many landowners have threatened.

You can read the rest of this editorial, including what happened with the EDU transfer registry, in this week's Editor's Notebook in the Kuna Melba News.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mickey Cottrell, beloved Kuna resident, dies at the age of 100

One of Kuna’s most beloved residents has died.
Mickey Cottrell, whose 100th birthday last year was the toast of the town, died Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Rotary Ann Nursing Home in Eagle Grove, Iowa, at the age of 100.
Mickey turned 100 years old on July 24.
The city of Kuna honored Mickey during a regular Kuna City Council meeting in July with a proclamation marking her her birthday.
“The community of Kuna has had the honor of Mickey Cottrell as a valued citizen and friend for over 75 years,” the proclamation read, in part.
A party for Mickey was held July 23 at the home of Ila Stowers, and an open house celebration was held Sunday, July 26, at the Kuna United Methodist Church.
Mickey moved to Eagle Grove, Iowa, in August 2009 to be close to her daughter and her family.
Mickey was born July 24, 1909, in Madraid, Iowa, and moved to Idaho at the age of 4. She was married to Dick Cottrell for 55 years. She loved to do crafts, ceramics and quilting and was a member of the County Extension Club for years. She even learned to knit at age 80! She quit driving at 96. For several years, she enjoyed lunch and fellowship with the Kuna and Melba senior centers.
She was a member of the Kuna United Methodist Church, Kuna Senior Citizens and the American Legion Auxiliary.

You can read Mickey's full obituary in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kuna school district defends $130,000 in pay raises

The Kuna school district is defending about $130,000 in raises that were given to 41 teachers and six administrators this school year.
But a Kuna Melba News analysis of the data shows that many of the numbers are deeply flawed and misleading.
As the state Legislature hammers out a public education budget for next year, several state legislators asked the state Department of Education for data related to increases in base salaries statewide. The data showed increases in salaries totaling over $21 million combined in all school districts across the state.
This comes at a time when many school districts are cutting services and asking the state to mitigate funding cuts in next year’s budget.
The Kuna school district, for example, eliminated midday transportation for kindergartners, saving an estimated $107,000 this year.
The Kuna school district also eliminated three administrative positions this year: the Kuna Middle School dean and two elementary school building administrators.
“After reducing three administrative positions as a part of cost-savings for this year,” according to a letter from Kuna superintendent Jay Hummel sent to school district employees last week, “I gave six administrators modest increases to compensate them for changes in their job title they assumed because of loss of administrative personnel.”

You can read the rest of this story, including how the numbers are misleading, on Page 12 of this week's Kuna Melba News.

Friday, March 5, 2010

State Department of Lands is planning office renovation project

The state Department of Lands is getting ready to spend up to $2.1 million on a project to renovate its offices in downtown Boise, according to a story in this week's Kuna Melba News. The project is out to bid, with a closing date of March 10.
The main areas of work on the building will be the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and replacing the building’s windows, according to George Bacon, Department of Lands director. The building, he said, is more than 50 years old, and the windows are original to the building. The windows originally had an estimated 15-year life expectancy, Bacon said.
“The HVAC system is ancient of days and needs to be replaced,” he said. The furnace is so old, Bacon added, that when something breaks, a replacement part needs to be fabricated, as the parts are no longer being made.
The building, at 300 N. Sixth St. in Boise, was built in 1952 and last remodeled in 1965, according to Ada County Assessor records for the property. The building is two stories totaling 31,350 square feet on 0.28 acres.
About 40 to 50 people with the Department of Lands work in the building, Bacon said. Another 8 to 12 people work in the state Office of Species Conservation, which is housed in the building. A private attorney also rents space in the building.
The money for the office building renovation will come from the Department of Lands’ earnings reserve fund, Bacon said.

You can read the rest of this story, including what this all has to do with public education in Idaho, on Page 5 of this week's Kuna Melba News.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Farmstead corn maze is moving from Kuna to Meridian

The Farmstead, Idaho’s Original Corn MAiZE, is returning to its roots. The corn maze and agritourism business, located on Meridian Road just south of Columbia Road since 2006, will be returning to its original location at Eagle and Overland roads this year. “We’re feeling sentimental about leaving Kuna,” said Hillary Lowe, a Kuna resident who owns and operates The Farmstead with her husband, Jim. “We’re a little excited, a little sad. But we’re pretty excited about the location and having about double the size. We were geting a little overcrowded.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kuna production of 'Oklahoma!' in new auditorium was a rousing success

When Kuna High School music teacher and choir director Brandi Cook took the stage on opening night last Thursday to introduce the inaugural production in the new Kuna Performing Arts Auditorium, she was overcome with emotion.
Cook became choked up as she remembered starting her job at Kuna High with 30 students in the choir program and not being able to fill the high school commons for a concert.
As she stood before the packed house of 800-plus attendees for opening night of “Oklahoma,” she tearfully recalled early discussions about a performing arts auditorium and being told she had to make sure she had a program good enough for such a facility.
Cook and the rest of the team in the Kuna school district can rest assured that the program is beyond good enough.
Thursday’s opening night was a rousing success all the way down the line.
This week's Kuna Melba News has lots of photos, letters to the editor and story/review.